Passport Info for Travel to the Caribbean Island
Your Jamaica itinerary is set. Lazing on a beach with the sound of reggae gracing the day, taking an afternoon trip to the Blue Mountains and dining on a meal of pepper shrimp and jerk chicken. You’ve checked your travel documents and are ready to go. Passports in hand, your family boards an airplane destined for an idyllic Caribbean island.
Do U.S. Citizens Need a Passport to Go to Jamaica?
Jamaica doesn’t require a tourist visa for visits shorter than 90 days, but you do need a passport book that will remain valid for the length of your visit. Travelers staying longer than 90 days need a visa and, depending on the circumstances, a work permit.
If you don’t have a passport, fill out a form DS-11, available at passport agencies and online. Present it with your proof of citizenship and ID at a passport agency or passport acceptance facility, along with a photo that meets passport requirements. If you need to renew, use form DS-82.
Children need a passport if they’re flying into Jamaica. The application process is the same as for an adult, but the child and his or her parent or legal guardian must appear in person. Note that passports for children under 16 are valid for only five years.
What If I’m Cruising to Jamaica?
You need a government-issued ID and an official copy of your birth certificate if your cruise to Jamaica begins and ends in the U.S. and doesn’t stop at other ports of call that require a passport. Jamaica is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel initiative, so you can also use one of the Trusted Traveler program forms of ID like a FAST, SENTRI or NEXUS card or an enhanced driver’s license. An enhanced license is almost the same as a regular license, but you’re subject to a higher level of security when it’s processed. Active duty military can show their military ID, but must be traveling on orders. If not, they need one of the other forms of ID honored by the Trusted Traveler Program.
Is it Safe to Vacation in Jamaica?
Use the same caution you would in an unfamiliar American city when you’re away from your resort or traveling alone. Have the phone number for the U.S. Embassy handy in case you’re arrested or suffer some other major distress, but don’t abuse the embassy with minor complaints. Make sure your children, especially older ones who may want to go out alone, understand that they should stay in a group and not wander far.
A Few More Tips for Jamaica Travel
The State Department encourages cruise passengers to have a passport book in case of an emergency that might force you to leave your cruise ship. If something happens back home that requires your immediate attention, you’ll be able to travel.
Keep in mind that Jamaicans drive on the left side of the highway. Visitors must be 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license to rent a car. The main roads on the island, particularly around tourist areas, are good, but roads in the interior can be bumpy, narrow and full of obstacles. If you’re traveling with kids and want to avoid potential problems, hire a cab. Look for license plates with PP or PPV on them. These are officially licensed.
Keep copies of your credit cards and identification, including your passport, separate from the originals.
Make sure your children’s immunizations are up-to-date. Once in Jamaica, wear mosquito repellent to keep you and your kids safe from dengue fever or malaria.
- U.S. Passports & International Travel: Children Under 16
- U.S. Passports & International Travel: Jamaica
- U.S. Passports & International Travel: How to Apply for a Passport
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
- Caribya: Roadway Guidance in Jamaica
- Caribya: Taxis in Jamaica
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.